Isn’t it ironic that something as essential to your well-being as sleep can be so hard to navigate? When you’re a baby, all you do is sleep, and when you’re a child, naps are carved into your daily routine. But then you grow up, life happens and becomes inevitably chaotic as you attempt to juggle class schedules with work schedules, on top of everything else. Sleep might be a natural thing your body craves, but it doesn’t always come as naturally as it did when you were a kid. Luckily, a handful of
childhood sleep remedies can work for adults, too, so you might want to take notes.
According to Jennifer Cooper, chief scientific officer for the customizable sleep aid supplement brand,
RestoreZ, sleep is, oftentimes, something you assume to be simple: You hop into bed, close your eyes, and sleep should just come, right? But the truth is, Cooper clarifies, your body starts preparing for sleep hours before it anticipates your bedtime, so the preparations you take to wind down an hour or so before bed are critical.
The problem is, despite your best efforts to fall asleep, there are still plenty of nights when shut-eye just doesn't come easily. So what are your options? Experts suggest putting down your smartphone, trying to be a little more consistent in your bedtime and the time you wake up, and, overall, just going back to basics. In other words, lean into the sleep remedies that seemed to work well throughout your childhood. Granted, those days are long gone, meaning your memory might be a little fuzzy, so, if it is, here are a few foolproof childhood sleep remedies that experts in the space swear by.
Drinking A Warm Glass Of Milk
Think about it: Babies drink a bottle before they go to sleep, so it only makes sense that parents would give their child a warm glass of milk before bed in the years to follow, right? But what about when you're all grown up? Does
a warm glass of milk help adults lull themselves to sleep at night, or should they stick to mugs of herbal tea, instead?
Well, for starters,
herbal teas, especially chamomile, are great to sip on before bed, but according to executive editor of Mattress Advisor, Alesandra Woolley, the age-old trick of a warm glass of milk also has some logic to it.
"Milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that helps us feel sleepy. It’s the same amino acid that’s found in turkey that makes it easy to drift off after Thanksgiving dinner," Woolley tells Elite Daily over email. Drinking a warm glass of milk before bed "can help relax and calm your body, making it easier to fall asleep," she explains, adding that, because milk is also a good source of calcium, a glass before bed can also help you
stay asleep throughout the night.
Rocking Yourself To Sleep
It may feel a little awkward at first, but Woolley tells me that rocking or swaying motions can actually help your brain simmer down and prepare for sleep in the same way it did when you were a child. "It’s the reason why some people fall asleep so easily on a long car ride or by swinging on a hammock," she says.
Dr. Roy Raymann, a resident sleep expert and vice president of sleep science and scientific affairs at SleepScore Labs, says the science on the subject still isn't clear in terms of why motion and sleep are so closely linked. "There is some evidence that the output of the vestibular system in your inner ear (the organ that detects position and movement) is processed by areas of your brain involved in sleep regulation," he tells Elite Daily. In other words, that gentle rocking sensation seems to encourage the sleep-enhancing state of the brain. Pretty cool, right?
Mind you, rocking yourself to sleep doesn't necessarily mean that you should literally sway side to side while lying in bed (though Woolley tells Elite Daily this is one option). You can also replicate this motion by rocking in a rocking chair close to bedtime, suggests Woolley, or, if you're feeling fancy, you could splurge on a product called the
Rocking Bed, which mimics the same gentle swaying motion you'd experience on a cruise ship for 20 minutes to help you fall asleep.
I know myself, and I always keep a book beside my bed so that, as soon as I'm buried under the covers, I can grab either my hardcover or paperback (the
blue light emitted from e-readers can actually interfere with your sleep cycle, just FYI), and read a few pages before drifting off to sleep. For me, this trick works every time, and according to Raymann, it's a great way to distract an otherwise busy mind.
"Reading or being read to is a great way to prevent other thoughts getting between you and your sleep," because racing or repetitive thoughts and worries "are a key factor of not being able to doze off," he tells Elite Daily. Ergo, distracting yourself with a juicy storyline is a great remedy, just as long as the plot is a little more lighthearted and easygoing.
And for all you audiobook lovers out there, Raymann says listening in can be just as effective. However, he
does suggest setting a sleep timer for about 30 minutes or so, as this is just enough time to calm your mind and encourage sleep, plus you won't doze off with your battery still running.
Love feeling snug as a bug in a rug? Woolley says tucking yourself into bed, in the same way you would swaddle a baby, can make you feel warm and secure — which I personally
greatly appreciate after a long, chaotic day.
"Adults can replicate the feeling of being swaddled by tucking in sheets and blankets closely around your body, or using a weighted blanket," Woolley suggests. "
Weighted blankets can help relieve stress and anxiety and calm your nerves to better prepare your mind and body for sleep."
Listening To Soothing Music
Similar to the idea of being read to at night, listening to soothing music can also calm your mind from distracting thoughts, essentially acting as a lullaby and making it easier to fall asleep.
"Meta-analysis has shown that music that helps you relax also
helps improve your sleep quality," Raymann tells Elite Daily. Songs with slow tempos are highly recommended for this, as Raymann points out that loud, sudden noises, screaming, and/or aggressive lyrics will likely just hype you up.
"Adults can also find the same type of comfort and calmness in
white noise machines or soothing sounds like raindrops or other subtle sounds found in nature," Woolley adds. "These sounds help train our brains to relax and be more prepared for deep, restful sleep."
Exercising (And Tiring Yourself Out) During The Day
Sometimes parents will rely on the "wearing out" method, in which they'll literally just let their child play and exert all their physical energy so that, by bedtime, they're exhausted and more than ready to call it a day. According to Raymann,
sticking to a regular exercise routine, or even just making it a point to be more active during the day (taking the stairs over the elevator, for instance), can help you exert more energy, thus making it easier to fall asleep later at night.
That being said, while exercise in general is great, exercising
late in the day can actually be counterintuitive sometimes, particularly if you're trying to fall asleep at a certain time. "[ Working out too close to bedtime] raises your body temperature, gets your heart rate going, and stimulates your brain to stay awake," Woolley explains. "If you prefer to work out in the evening, you should do it at least two hours before getting into bed to help your mind and body wind down for sleep."